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German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck in 1940
|Namesake:||Otto von Bismarck|
|Builder:||Blohm & Voss, Hamburg|
|Laid down:||1 July 1936|
|Launched:||14 February 1939|
|Commissioned:||24 August 1940|
|3 times mentioned in theWehrmachtbericht|
|Class and type:||Bismarck-classbattleship|
|Beam:||36 m (118 ft 1 in)|
|Draft:||9.3 m (30 ft 6 in) standard[a]|
|Speed:||30.01 knots (55.58 km/h; 34.53 mph) during trials[b]|
|Range:||8,870 nmi (16,430 km; 10,210 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)|
|Aircraft carried:||4 × Arado Ar 196floatplanes|
|Aviation facilities:||1 double-ended catapult|
Bismarck was the first of two Bismarck-classbattleships built for Nazi Germany‘s Kriegsmarine. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the unification of Germany in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched in February 1939. Work was completed in August 1940, when she was commissioned into the German fleet. Bismarck and her sister ship Tirpitz were the largest battleships ever built by Germany, and two of the largest built by any European power.
In the course of the warship’s eight-month career under its sole commanding officer, Capt. Ernst Lindemann, Bismarck conducted only one offensive operation, in May 1941, codenamed Rheinübung. The ship, along with the heavy cruiserPrinz Eugen, was to break into the Atlantic Ocean and raid Allied shipping from North America to Great Britain. The two ships were detected several times off Scandinavia, and British naval units were deployed to block their route. At the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Bismarck engaged and destroyed the battlecruiserHMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy, and forced the battleship HMS Prince of Wales to retreat; Bismarck was hit three times and suffered an oil leak from a ruptured tank.
The destruction of Hood spurred a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy involving dozens of warships. Two days later, heading for the relative safety of occupied France, Bismarck was attacked by obsolescentFairey Swordfishbiplanetorpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; one scored a hit that rendered the battleship’s steering gear inoperable. In her final battle the following morning, Bismarck was neutralised by a sustained bombardment from a British fleet, was scuttled by her crew, and sank with heavy loss of life. Most experts agree that the battle damage would have caused her to sink eventually. The wreck was located in June 1989 by Robert Ballard, and has since been further surveyed by several other expeditions.
Construction and characteristics
Bismarck was ordered under the name Ersatz Hannover (“Hannover replacement”), a replacement for the old pre-dreadnoughtSMS Hannover, under contract “F”. The contract was awarded to the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, where the keel was laid on 1 July 1936 at Helgen IX. The ship was launched on 14 February 1939 and during the elaborate ceremonies was christened by Dorothee von Löwenfeld, granddaughter of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the ship’s namesake. Adolf Hitler made the christening speech.Fitting-out work followed the launch, during which time the original straight stem was replaced with a raked “Atlantic bow” similar to those of the Scharnhorst-class battleships.Bismarck was commissioned into the fleet on 24 August 1940 for sea trials, which were conducted in the Baltic. Kapitän zur SeeErnst Lindemann took command of the ship at the time of commissioning.
Bismarck displaced 41,700 t (41,000 long tons) as built and 50,300 t (49,500 long tons) fully loaded, with an overall length of 251 m (823 ft 6 in), a beam of 36 m (118 ft 1 in) and a maximum draft of 9.9 m (32 ft 6 in). The battleship was Germany’s largest warship, and displaced more than any other European battleship, with the exception ofHMS Vanguard, commissioned after the end of the war.Bismarck was powered by three Blohm & Voss geared steam turbines and twelve oil-fired Wagner superheatedboilers, which developed a total of 148,116 shp (110,450 kW) and yielded a maximum speed of 30.01 knots (55.58 km/h; 34.53 mph) on speed trials. The ship had a cruising range of 8,870 nautical miles (16,430 km; 10,210 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph).Bismarck was equipped with three FuMO 23 search radar sets, mounted on the forward and stern rangefinders and foretop.
The standard crew numbered 103 officers and 1,962 enlisted men. The crew was divided into twelve divisions of between 180 and 220 men. The first six divisions were assigned to the ship’s armament, divisions one to four for the main and secondary batteries and five and six manning anti-aircraft guns. The seventh division consisted of specialists, including cooks and carpenters, and the eighth division consisted of ammunition handlers. The radio operators, signalmen, and quartermasters were assigned to the ninth division. The last three divisions were the engine room personnel. When Bismarck left port, fleet staff, prize crews, and war correspondents increased the crew complement to over 2,200 men. Roughly 200 of the engine room personnel came from the light cruiserKarlsruhe, which had been lost during Operation Weserübung, the German invasion of Norway.Bismarck‘s crew published a ship’s newspaper titled Die Schiffsglocke (The Ship’s Bell); this paper was only published once, on 23 April 1941, by the commander of the engineering department, Gerhard Junack.
Bismarck was armed with eight 38 cm (15 in) SK C/34 guns arranged in four twin gun turrets: two super-firing turrets forward—”Anton” and “Bruno”—and two aft—”Caesar” and “Dora”.[c] Secondary armament consisted of twelve 15 cm (5.9 in) L/55 guns, sixteen 10.5 cm (4.1 in) L/65 and sixteen 3.7 cm (1.5 in) L/83, and twelve 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft guns. Bismarck also carried four Arado Ar 196 reconnaissancefloatplanes, with a single large hangar and a double-ended catapult. The ship’s main belt was 320 mm (12.6 in) thick and was covered by a pair of upper and main armoured decks that were 50 mm (2.0 in) and 100 to 120 mm (3.9 to 4.7 in) thick, respectively. The 38 cm (15 in) turrets were protected by 360 mm (14.2 in) thick faces and 220 mm (8.7 in) thick sides.
On 15 September 1940, three weeks after commissioning, Bismarck left Hamburg to begin sea trials in Kiel Bay.Sperrbrecher 13 escorted the ship to Arcona on 28 September, and then on to Gotenhafen for trials in the Gulf of Danzig. The ship’s power-plant was given a thorough workout; Bismarck made measured-mile and high speed runs. As the ship’s stability and manoeuvrability were being tested, a flaw in her design was discovered. When attempting to steer the ship solely through altering propeller revolutions, the crew learned that Bismarck could be kept on course only with great difficulty. Even with the outboard screws running at full power in opposite directions, they generated only a slight turning ability.Bismarck‘s main battery guns were first test-fired in late November. The tests proved she was a very stable gun platform. Trials lasted until December; Bismarckreturned to Hamburg, arriving on 9 December, for minor alterations and the completion of the fitting-out process.
The ship was scheduled to return to Kiel on 24 January 1941, but a merchant vessel had been sunk in the Kiel Canal and prevented use of the waterway. Severe weather hampered efforts to remove the wreck, and Bismarckwas not able to reach Kiel until March. The delay greatly frustrated Lindemann, who remarked that “[Bismarck] had been tied down at Hamburg for five weeks … the precious time at sea lost as a result cannot be made up, and a significant delay in the final war deployment of the ship thus is unavoidable.” While waiting to reach Kiel, Bismarck hosted Captain Anders Forshell, the Swedish naval attaché to Berlin. He returned to Sweden with a detailed description of the ship, which was subsequently leaked to Britain by pro-British elements in the Swedish Navy. The information provided the Royal Navy with its first full description of the vessel, although it lacked important facts, including top speed, radius of action, and displacement.
On 6 March, Bismarck received the order to steam to Kiel. On the way, the ship was escorted by several Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters and a pair of armed merchant vessels, along with an icebreaker. At 08:45 on 8 March,Bismarck briefly ran aground on the southern shore of the Kiel Canal; she was freed within an hour. The ship reached Kiel the following day, where her crew stocked ammunition, fuel, and other supplies and applied a coat ofdazzle paint to camouflage her. British bombers attacked the harbour without success on 12 March. On 17 March, the old battleship Schlesien, now used as an icebreaker, escorted Bismarck through the ice to Gotenhafen, where the latter continued combat readiness training.
The Naval High Command (Oberkommando der Marine or OKM), commanded by Admiral Erich Raeder, intended to continue the practice of using heavy ships as surface raiders against Allied merchant traffic in the Atlantic Ocean. The two Scharnhorst-class battleships were based in Brest, France, at the time, having just completed Operation Berlin, a major raid into the Atlantic. Bismarck‘s sister shipTirpitz rapidly approached completion.Bismarck and Tirpitz were to sortie from the Baltic and rendezvous with the two Scharnhorst-class ships in the Atlantic; the operation was initially scheduled for around 25 April 1941, when a new moon period would make conditions more favourable.
Work on Tirpitz was completed later than anticipated, and she was not commissioned until 25 February; the ship was not ready for combat until late in the year. To further complicate the situation, Gneisenau was torpedoed in Brest and damaged further by bombs when in drydock. Scharnhorst required a boiler overhaul following Operation Berlin; the workers discovered during the overhaul that the boilers were in worse condition than expected. She would also be unavailable for the planned sortie. Attacks by British bombers on supply depots in Kiel delayed repairs to the heavy cruisers Admiral Scheer and Admiral Hipper. The two ships would not be ready for action until July or August. Admiral Günther Lütjens, Flottenchef (Fleet Chief) of the Kriegsmarine, chosen to lead the operation, wished to delay the operation at least until either Scharnhorst or Tirpitz became available, but the OKM decided to proceed with the operation, codenamed Operation Rheinübung, with a force consisting of onlyBismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. At a final meeting with Raeder in Paris on 26 April, Lütjens was encouraged by his commander-in-chief to proceed and he eventually decided that an operation should begin as soon as possible to prevent the enemy gaining any respite.
On 5 May, Adolf Hitler and Wilhelm Keitel, with a large entourage, arrived to view Bismarck and Tirpitz in Gotenhafen. The men were given an extensive tour of the ships, after which Hitler met with Lütjens to discuss the upcoming mission. On 16 May, Lütjens reported that Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were fully prepared for Operation Rheinübung; he was therefore ordered to proceed with the mission on the evening of 19 May. As part of the operational plans, a group of eighteen supply ships would be positioned to support Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Four U-boats would be placed along the convoy routes between Halifax and Britain to scout for the raiders.
By the start of the operation, Bismarck‘s crew had increased to 2,221 officers and enlisted men. This included an admiral’s staff of nearly 65 and a prize crew of 80 sailors, who could be used to crew transports captured during the mission. At 02:00 on 19 May, Bismarck departed Gotenhafen and made for the Danish straits. She was joined at 11:25 by Prinz Eugen, which had departed the previous night at 21:18, off Cape Arkona. The two ships were escorted by three destroyers—Z10 Hans Lody, Z16 Friedrich Eckoldt, and Z23—and a flotilla of minesweepers. The Luftwaffe provided air cover during the voyage out of German waters. At around noon on 20 May, Lindemann informed the ship’s crew via loudspeaker of the ship’s mission. At approximately the same time, a group of ten or twelve Swedish aircraft flying reconnaissance encountered the German force and reported its composition and heading, though the Germans did not see the Swedes.
An hour later, the German flotilla encountered the Swedish cruiserHSwMS Gotland; the cruiser shadowed the Germans for two hours in the Kattegat.Gotland transmitted a report to naval headquarters, stating: “Two large ships, three destroyers, five escort vessels, and 10–12 aircraft passed Marstrand, course 205°/20′.” The OKM was not concerned about the security risk posed by Gotland, though both Lütjens and Lindemann believed operational secrecy had been lost. The report eventually made its way to Captain Henry Denham, the British naval attaché to Sweden, who transmitted the information to the Admiralty. The code-breakers at Bletchley Park confirmed that an Atlantic raid was imminent, as they had decrypted reports that Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had taken on prize crews and requested additional navigational charts from headquarters. A pair of Supermarine Spitfires was ordered to search the Norwegian coast for the flotilla.
German aerial reconnaissance confirmed that one aircraft carrier, three battleships, and four cruisers remained at anchor in the main British naval base at Scapa Flow, which confirmed to Lütjens that the British were unaware of his operation. On the evening of 20 May, Bismarck and the rest of the flotilla reached the Norwegian coast; the minesweepers were detached and the two raiders and their destroyer escorts continued north. The following morning, radio-intercept officers on board Prinz Eugen picked up a signal ordering British reconnaissance aircraft to search for two battleships and three destroyers northbound off the Norwegian coast. At 7:00 on the 21st, the Germans spotted four unidentified aircraft, which quickly departed. Shortly after 12:00, the flotilla reachedBergen and anchored at Grimstadfjord, where the ships’ crews painted over the Baltic camouflage with the standard “outboard grey” worn by German warships operating in the Atlantic.
When Bismarck was in Norway, a pair of Bf 109 fighters circled overhead to protect her from British air attacks, but Flying Officer Michael Suckling managed to fly his Spitfire directly over the German flotilla at a height of 8,000 m (26,000 ft) and take photos of Bismarck and her escorts. Upon receipt of the information, Admiral John Tovey ordered the battlecruiserHMS Hood, the newly commissioned battleship HMS Prince of Wales, and six destroyers to reinforce the pair of cruisers patrolling the Denmark Strait. The rest of the Home Fleet was placed on high alert in Scapa Flow. Eighteen bombers were dispatched to attack the Germans, but weather over the fjordhad worsened and they were unable to find the German warships.
Bismarck did not replenish her fuel stores in Norway, as her operational orders did not require her to do so. She had left port 200 t (200 long tons) short of a full load, and had since expended another 1,000 t (980 long tons) on the voyage from Gotenhafen. Prinz Eugen took on 764 t (752 long tons) of fuel. At 19:30 on 21 May, Bismarck, Prinz Eugen, and the three escorting destroyers left Bergen. At midnight, when the force was in the open sea, heading towards the Arctic Ocean, Raeder disclosed the operation to Hitler, who reluctantly consented to the raid. The three escorting destroyers were detached at 04:14 on 22 May, while the force steamed off Trondheim. At around 12:00, Lütjens ordered his two ships to turn toward the Denmark Strait to attempt the break-out into the open Atlantic.
By 04:00 on 23 May, Lütjens ordered Bismarck and Prinz Eugen to increase speed to 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph) to make the dash through the Denmark Strait. Upon entering the Strait, both ships activated their FuMO radar detection equipment sets.Bismarck led Prinz Eugen by about 700 m (770 yd); mist reduced visibility to 3,000 to 4,000 m (3,300 to 4,400 yd). The Germans encountered some ice at around 10:00, which necessitated a reduction in speed to 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph). Two hours later, the pair had reached a point north of Iceland. The ships were forced to zigzag to avoid ice floes. At 19:22, hydrophone and radar operators aboard the German warships detected the cruiser HMS Suffolk at a range of approximately 12,500 m (13,700 yd).Prinz Eugen‘s radio-intercept team decrypted the radio signals being sent by Suffolk and learned that their location had been reported.
Lütjens gave permission for Prinz Eugen to engage Suffolk, but the captain of the German cruiser could not clearly make out his target and so held fire.Suffolk quickly retreated to a safe distance and shadowed the German ships. At 20:30, the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk joined Suffolk, but approached the German raiders too closely. Lütjens ordered his ships to engage the British cruiser; Bismarck fired five salvoes, three of which straddled Norfolk and rained shell splinters on her decks. The cruiser laid a smoke screen and fled into a fog bank, ending the brief engagement. The concussion from the 38 cm guns’ firing disabled Bismarck‘s FuMO 23 radar set; this prompted Lütjens to order Prinz Eugen to take station ahead so she could use her functioning radar to scout for the formation.
At around 22:00, Lütjens ordered Bismarck to make a 180-degree turn in an effort to surprise the two heavy cruisers shadowing him. Although Bismarck was visually obscured in a rain squall, Suffolk‘s radar quickly detected the manoeuvre, allowing the cruiser to evade. The cruisers remained on station through the night, continually relaying the location and bearing of the German ships. The harsh weather broke on the morning of 24 May, revealing a clear sky. At 05:07, hydrophone operators aboard Prinz Eugen detected a pair of unidentified vessels approaching the German formation at a range of 20 nmi (37 km; 23 mi), reporting “Noise of two fast-moving turbine ships at 280° relative bearing!”
Battle of the Denmark Strait
At 05:45, German lookouts spotted smoke on the horizon; this turned out to be from Hood and Prince of Wales, under the command of Vice AdmiralLancelot Holland. Lütjens ordered his ships’ crews to battle stations. By 05:52, the range had fallen to 26,000 m (28,000 yd) and Hood opened fire, followed by Prince of Wales a minute later.Hood engaged Prinz Eugen, which the British thought to be Bismarck, while Prince of Wales fired on Bismarck.[d]Adalbert Schneider, the first gunnery officer aboard Bismarck, twice requested permission to return fire, but Lütjens hesitated. Lindemann intervened, muttering “I will not let my ship be shot out from under my ass.” He demanded permission to fire from Lütjens, who relented and at 05:55 ordered his ships to engage the British.
The British ships approached the German ships head on, which permitted them to use only their forward guns; Bismarck and Prinz Eugen could fire full broadsides. Several minutes after opening fire, Holland ordered a 20° turn to port, which would allow his ships to engage with their rear gun turrets. Both German ships concentrated their fire on Hood. About a minute after opening fire, Prinz Eugen scored a hit with a high-explosive 20.3 cm (8.0 in) shell; the explosion detonated unrotated projectile ammunition and started a large fire, which was quickly extinguished. After firing three four-gun salvoes, Schneider had found the range to Hood; he immediately ordered rapid-fire salvoes from Bismarck‘s eight 38 cm guns. He also ordered the ship’s 15 cm secondary guns to engage Prince of Wales. Holland then ordered a second 20° turn to port, to bring his ships on a parallel course withBismarck and Prinz Eugen. Lütjens ordered Prinz Eugen to shift fire and target Prince of Wales, to keep both of his opponents under fire. Within a few minutes, Prinz Eugen scored a pair of hits on the battleship that started a small fire.
Lütjens then ordered Prinz Eugen to drop behind Bismarck, so she could continue to monitor the location of Norfolk and Suffolk, which were still some 10 to 12 nmi (19 to 22 km; 12 to 14 mi) to the east. At 06:00, Hood was completing the second turn to port when Bismarck‘s fifth salvo hit. Two of the shells landed short, striking the water close to the ship, but at least one of the 38 cm armour-piercing shells struck Hood and penetrated her thin deck armour. The shell reached Hood‘s rear ammunition magazine and detonated 112 t (110 long tons) of cordite propellant. The massive explosion broke the back of the ship between the main mast and the rear funnel; the forward section continued to move forward briefly before the in-rushing water caused the bow to rise into the air at a steep angle. The stern also rose as water rushed into the ripped-open compartments. Schneider exclaimed “He is sinking!” over the ship’s loudspeakers. In only eight minutes of firing, Hood had disappeared, taking all but three of her crew of 1,419 men with her.
Bismarck then shifted fire to Prince of Wales. The British battleship scored a hit on Bismarck with her sixth salvo, but the German ship found her mark with her first salvo. One of the shells struck the bridge on Prince of Wales, though it did not explode and instead exited the other side, killing everyone in the ship’s command centre, save Captain John Leach, the ship’s commanding officer, and one other. The two German ships continued to fire upon Prince of Wales, causing serious damage. Guns malfunctioned on the recently commissioned British ship, which still had civilian technicians aboard. Despite the technical faults in the main battery, Prince of Walesscored three hits on Bismarck in the engagement. The first struck her in the forecastle above the waterline but low enough to allow the crashing waves to enter the hull. The second shell struck below the armoured belt and exploded on contact with the torpedo bulkhead, inflicting minimal damage. The third shell passed through one of the boats carried aboard the ship and then went through the floatplanecatapult without exploding.
At 06:13, Leach gave the order to retreat; only two of his ship’s ten 14 in (360 mm) guns were still firing and his ship had sustained significant damage. Prince of Wales made a 160° turn and laid a smoke screen to cover her withdrawal. The Germans ceased fire as the range widened. Though Lindemann strongly advocated chasing Prince of Wales and destroying her, Lütjens obeyed operational orders to shun any avoidable engagement with enemy forces that were not protecting a convoy, firmly rejecting the request, and instead ordered Bismarck and Prinz Eugen to head for the North Atlantic. In the engagement, Bismarck had fired 93 armour-piercing shells and had been hit by three shells in return. The forecastle hit allowed 1,000 to 2,000 t (980 to 1,970 long tons) of water to flood into the ship, which contaminated fuel oil stored in the bow. Lütjens refused to reduce speed to allow damage control teams to repair the shell hole which widened and allowed more water into the ship. The second hit caused some additional flooding. Shell-splinters from the second hit also damaged a steam line in the turbo-generator room, but this was not serious, as Bismarck had sufficient other generator reserves. The combined flooding from these two hits caused a 9-degree list to port and a 3-degree trim by the bow.
After the engagement, Lütjens reported, “Battlecruiser, probably Hood, sunk. Another battleship, King George V or Renown, turned away damaged. Two heavy cruisers maintain contact.” At 08:01, he transmitted a damage report and his intentions to OKM, which were to detach Prinz Eugen for commerce raiding and to make for Saint-Nazaire for repairs. Shortly after 10:00, Lütjens ordered Prinz Eugen to fall behind Bismarck to discern the severity of the oil leakage from the bow hit. After confirming “broad streams of oil on both sides of [Bismarck‘s] wake”,Prinz Eugen returned to the forward position. About an hour later, a British Short Sunderlandflying boat reported the oil slick to Suffolk and Norfolk, which had been joined by the damaged Prince of Wales. Rear Admiral Frederic Wake-Walker, the commander of the two cruisers, ordered Prince of Wales to remain behind his ships.
The Royal Navy ordered all warships in the area to join the pursuit of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Tovey’s Home Fleet was steaming to intercept the German raiders, but on the morning of 24 May was still over 350 nmi (650 km; 400 mi) away. The Admiralty ordered the light cruisersManchester, Birmingham, and Arethusa to patrol the Denmark Strait in the event that Lütjens attempted to retrace his route. The battleship Rodney, which had been escorting RMS Britannic and was due for a refit in the Boston Navy Yard, joined Tovey. Two old Revenge-class battleships were ordered into the hunt: Revenge, from Halifax, and Ramillies, which was escorting Convoy HX 127. In all, six battleships and battlecruisers, two aircraft carriers, thirteen cruisers, and twenty-one destroyers were committed to the chase. By around 17:00, the crew aboard Prince of Wales restored nine of her ten main guns to working order, which permitted Wake-Walker to place her in the front of his formation to attack Bismarck if the opportunity arose.
With the weather worsening, Lütjens attempted to detach Prinz Eugen at 16:40. The squall was not heavy enough to cover her withdrawal from Wake-Walker’s cruisers, which continued to maintain radar contact. Prinz Eugen was therefore recalled temporarily.The cruiser was successfully detached at 18:14. Bismarck turned around to face Wake-Walker’s formation, forcing Suffolk to turn away at high speed. Prince of Wales fired twelve salvos at Bismarck, which responded with nine salvos, none of which hit. The action diverted British attention and permitted Prinz Eugen to slip away. After Bismarck resumed her previous heading, Wake-Walker’s three ships took up station on Bismarck‘s port side.
Although Bismarck had been damaged in the engagement and forced to reduce speed, she was still capable of reaching 27 to 28 knots (50 to 52 km/h; 31 to 32 mph), the maximum speed of Tovey’s King George V. Unless Bismarck could be slowed, the British would be unable to prevent her from reaching Saint-Nazaire. Shortly before 16:00 on 25 May, Tovey detached the aircraft carrier Victorious and four light cruisers to shape a course that would position her to launch her torpedo bombers. At 22:00, Victoriouslaunched the strike, which comprised six Fairey Fulmar fighters and nine Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers of 825 Naval Air Squadron, led by Lt Cdr Eugene Esmonde. The inexperienced aviators nearly attacked Norfolk on their approach; the confusion alertedBismarck‘s anti-aircraft gunners.
Bismarck also used her main and secondary batteries to fire at maximum depression to create giant splashes in the paths of the incoming torpedo bombers. None of the attacking aircraft were shot down. Bismarck evaded eight of the torpedoes launched at her, but the  ninth struck amidships on the main armoured belt, throwing one man into a bulkhead and killing him and injuring five others.  The explosion also caused minor damage to electrical equipment. The ship suffered more serious damage from manoeuvres to evade the torpedoes: rapid shifts in speed and course loosened collision mats, which increased the flooding from the forward shell hole and eventually forced abandonment of the port number 2 boiler room. This loss of a second boiler, combined with fuel losses and increasing bow trim, forced the ship to slow to 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph). Divers repaired the collision mats in the bow, after which speed increased to 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph), the speed that the command staff determined was the most economical for the voyage to occupied France.
Shortly after the Swordfish departed the scene, Bismarck and Prince of Wales engaged in a brief artillery duel. Neither scored a hit.Bismarck‘s damage control teams resumed work after the short engagement. The sea water that had flooded the number 2 port side boiler threatened to enter the number 4 turbo-generator feedwater system, which would have permitted saltwater to reach the turbines. The saltwater would have destroyed the turbine blades and thus greatly reduced the ship’s speed. By morning on 25 May, the danger had passed. The ship slowed to 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) to allow divers to pump fuel from the forward compartments to the rear tanks; two hoses were successfully connected and a few hundred tons of fuel were transferred.
As the chase entered open waters, Wake-Walker’s ships were compelled to zig-zag to avoid German U-boats that might be in the area. This required the ships to steam for ten minutes to port, then ten minutes to starboard, to keep the ships on the same base course. For the last few minutes of the turn to port, Bismarck was out of range of Suffolk‘s radar. At 03:00 on 25 May, Lütjens ordered an increase to maximum speed, which at this point was 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph). He then ordered the ship to circle away to the west and then north. This manoeuvre coincided with the period during which his ship was out of radar range; Bismarck successfully broke radar contact and circled back behind her pursuers. Suffolk‘s captain assumed that Bismarck had broken off to the west and attempted to find her by also steaming west. After half an hour, he informed Wake-Walker, who ordered the three ships to disperse at daylight to search visually.
The Royal Navy search became frantic, as many of the British ships were low on fuel. Victorious and her escorting cruisers were sent west, Wake-Walker’s ships continued to the south and west, and Tovey continued to steam toward the mid-Atlantic. Force H, with the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and steaming up from Gibraltar, was still at least a day away. Unaware that he had shaken off Wake-Walker, Lütjens sent long radio messages to Naval Group West headquarters in Paris. The signals were intercepted by the British, from which bearings were determined. They were wrongly plotted on board King George V, leading Tovey to believe that Bismarck was heading back to Germany through the Iceland-Faeroe gap, which kept his fleet on the wrong course for seven hours. By the time the mistake had been discovered, Bismarck had put a sizeable gap between herself and the British ships.
British code-breakers were able to decrypt some of the German signals, including an order to the Luftwaffe to provide support for Bismarck making for Brest, decrypted by Jane Fawcett on 25 May 1941. The French Resistance provided the British with confirmation that Luftwaffe units were relocating there. Tovey could now turn his forces toward France to converge in areas through which Bismarck would have to pass. A squadron of Coastal Command PBY Catalinas based in Northern Ireland joined the search, covering areas where Bismarck might be headed in her attempt to reach occupied France. At 10:30 on 26 May, a Catalina piloted by EnsignLeonard B. Smith of the US Navy located her, some 690 nmi (1,280 km; 790 mi) northwest of Brest.[e] At her current speed, she would have been close enough to reach the protection of U-boats and the Luftwaffe in less than a day. Most British forces were not close enough to stop her.
The only possibility for the Royal Navy was Ark Royal with Force H, under the command of Admiral James Somerville.Victorious, Prince of Wales, Suffolk and Repulse were forced to break off the search due to fuel shortage; the only heavy ships remaining apart from Force H were King George V and Rodney, but they were too distant.Ark Royal‘s Swordfish were already searching nearby when the Catalina found her. Several torpedo bombers also located the battleship, about 60 nmi (110 km; 69 mi) away from Ark Royal. Somerville ordered an attack as soon as the Swordfish returned and were rearmed with torpedoes. He detached the cruiser Sheffield to shadow Bismarck, though Ark Royal‘s aviators were not informed of this. As a result, the Swordfish, which were armed with torpedoes equipped with new magnetic detonators, accidentally attacked Sheffield. The magnetic detonators failed to work properly and Sheffield emerged unscathed.
Upon returning to Ark Royal, the Swordfish loaded torpedoes equipped with contact detonators. The second attack comprised fifteen aircraft and was launched at 19:10. At 20:47, the torpedo bombers began their attack descent through the clouds. As the Swordfish approached, Bismarck fired her main battery at Sheffield, straddling the cruiser with her second salvo. Shell fragments rained down on Sheffield, killing three men and wounding several others.Sheffield quickly retreated under cover of a smoke screen. The Swordfish then attacked; Bismarck began to turn violently as her anti-aircraft batteries engaged the bombers. One torpedo hit amidships on the port side, just below the bottom edge of the main armour belt. The force of the explosion was largely contained by the underwater protection system and the belt armour but some structural damage caused minor flooding.
The second torpedo—fired by pilot John Moffat—struck Bismarck in her stern on the port side, near the port rudder shaft. The coupling on the port rudder assembly was badly damaged and the rudder could not be disengaged, locked in a 12° turn to port. The explosion also caused much shock damage. The crew eventually managed to repair the starboard rudder but the port rudder remained jammed. A suggestion to sever the port rudder with explosives was dismissed by Lütjens, as damage to the screws would have left the battleship helpless. At 21:15, Lütjens reported that the ship was unmanoeuvrable.
With the port rudder jammed, Bismarck was now steaming in a large circle, unable to escape from Tovey’s forces. Though fuel shortages had reduced the number of ships available to the British, the battleships King George Vand Rodney were still available, along with the heavy cruisers Dorsetshire and Norfolk. Lütjens signalled headquarters at 21:40 on the 26th: “Ship unmanoeuvrable. We will fight to the last shell. Long live the Führer.” The mood of the crew became increasingly depressed, especially as messages from the naval command reached the ship. Intended to boost morale, the messages only highlighted the desperate situation in which the crew found itself. As dark fell, Bismarck briefly fired on Sheffield, though the cruiser quickly fled. Sheffield lost contact in the low visibility and Captain Philip Vian‘s group of five destroyers was ordered to keep contact with Bismarck through the night.
The ships encountered Bismarck at 22:38; the battleship quickly engaged them with her main battery. After firing three salvos, she straddled the Polish destroyer ORP Piorun. The destroyer continued to close the range until a near miss at around 12,000 m (39,000 ft) forced her to turn away. Throughout the night and into the morning, Vian’s destroyers harried Bismarck, illuminating her with star shells and firing dozens of torpedoes, none of which hit. Between 05:00 and 06:00, Bismarck‘s crew attempted to launch one of the Arado 196 float planes to carry away the ship’s war diary, footage of the engagement with Hood, and other important documents. The third shell hit from Prince of Wales had damaged the steam line on the aircraft catapult, rendering it inoperative. As it was not possible to launch the aircraft it had become a fire hazard, and was pushed overboard.
After daybreak on 27 May, King George V led the attack. Rodney followed off her port quarter; Tovey intended to steam directly at Bismarck until he was about 8 nmi (15 km; 9.2 mi) away. At that point, he would turn south to put his ships parallel to his target. At 08:43, lookouts on King George V spotted her, some 23,000 m (25,000 yd) away. Four minutes later, Rodney‘s two forward turrets, comprising six 16 in (406 mm) guns, opened fire, then King George V‘s 14 in (356 mm) guns began firing. Bismarck returned fire at 08:50 with her forward guns; with her second salvo, she straddled Rodney. Thereafter, Bismarck‘s gunnery became increasingly difficult as the ship moved erratically in the heavy seas, unable to steer, depriving Schneider of a predictable course for range calculations.
As the range fell, the ships’ secondary batteries joined the battle. Norfolk and Dorsetshire closed and began firing with their 8 in (203 mm) guns. At 09:02, a 16-inch shell from Rodney struck Bismarck‘s forward superstructure, killing hundreds of men and severely damaging the two forward turrets. According to survivors, this salvo probably killed both Lindemann and Lütjens and the rest of the bridge staff. The main fire control director was also destroyed by this hit, which probably also killed Schneider. A second shell from this salvo struck the forward main battery was disabled, though it would manage to fire one last salvo at 09:27. Lieutenant von Müllenheim-Rechberg, in the rear control station, took over firing control for the rear turrets. He managed to fire three salvos before a shell destroyed the gun director, disabling his equipment. He gave the order for the guns to fire independently, but by 09:31, all four main battery turrets had been put out of action. One of Bismarck‘s shells exploded 20 feet off Rodney‘s bow and damaged her starboard torpedo tube—the closest Bismarck came to a direct hit on her opponents.
By 10:00, Tovey’s two battleships had fired over 700 main battery shells, many at very close range; Bismarck had been reduced to a shambles, aflame from stem to stern. She suffered from a 20° list to port and was low in the water by the stern. Rodney closed to 2,700 m (3,000 yd), point-blank range for guns of that size, and continued to fire. Tovey could not cease fire until the Germans struck their ensigns or it became clear they were abandoning ship.Rodney fired two torpedoes from her port-side tube and claimed one hit. According to Ludovic Kennedy, “if true, [this is] the only instance in history of one battleship torpedoing another”.
First Officer Hans Oels ordered the men below decks to abandon ship; he instructed the engine room crews to open the ship’s watertight doors and prepare scuttling charges. Gerhard Junack, the chief engineering officer, ordered his men to set the demolition charges with a 9-minute fuse but the intercom system broke down and he sent a messenger to confirm the order to scuttle the ship. The messenger never returned and Junack primed the charges and ordered the crew to abandon the ship. Junack and his comrades heard the demolition charges detonate as they made their way up through the various levels. Oels rushed throughout the ship, ordering men to abandon their posts. After he reached the deck a huge explosion killed him and about a hundred others.
The four British ships fired more than 2,800 shells at Bismarck, and scored more than 400 hits, but were unable to sink Bismarck by gunfire. At around 10:20, running low on fuel, Tovey ordered the cruiser Dorsetshire to sink Bismarckwith torpedoes and sent his battleships back to port.Dorsetshire fired a pair of torpedoes into Bismarck‘s starboard side, one of which hit. Dorsetshire then moved around to her port side and fired another torpedo, which also hit. By the time these torpedo attacks took place, the ship was already listing so badly that the deck was partly awash. It appears that the final torpedo may have detonated against Bismarck‘s port side superstructure, which was by then already underwater. Around 10:35, Bismarck capsized to port and slowly sank by the stern, disappearing from the surface at 10:40. Some survivors reported they saw Captain Lindemann standing at attention at the stem of the ship as she sank.
Junack, who had abandoned ship by the time it capsized, observed no underwater damage to the ship’s starboard side. Von Müllenheim-Rechberg reported the same but assumed that the port side, which was then under water, had been more significantly damaged. Around 400 men were now in the water;Dorsetshire and the destroyer Maori moved in and lowered ropes to pull the survivors aboard. At 11:40, Dorsetshire‘s captain ordered the rescue effort abandoned after lookouts spotted what they thought was a U-boat. Dorsetshire had rescued 85 men and Maori had picked up 25 by the time they left the scene. A U-boat later reached the survivors and found three men, and a German trawler rescued another two. One of the men picked up by the British died of his wounds the following day. Out of a crew of over 2,200 men, only 114 survived.
Bismarck was mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht (armed forces report) three times during Operation Rheinübung. The first was an account of the Battle of the Denmark Strait; the second was a brief account of the ship’s destruction, and the third was an exaggerated claim that Bismarck had sunk a British destroyer and shot down five aircraft. In 1959, C. S. Forester published his novel Last Nine Days of the Bismarck. The book was adapted for the movie Sink the Bismarck!, released the following year. For dramatic effect the film showed Bismarck sinking a British destroyer and shooting down two aircraft, neither of which happened. That same year, Johnny Horton released the song “Sink the Bismarck”.
Discovery by Robert Ballard
The wreck of Bismarck was discovered on 8 June 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard, the oceanographer responsible for finding RMS Titanic. Bismarck was found to be resting upright at a depth of approximately 4,791 m (15,719 ft), about 650 km (400 mi) west of Brest. The ship struck an extinct underwater volcano, which rose some 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above the surrounding abyssal plain, triggering a 2 km (1.2 mi) landslide. Bismarck slid down the mountain, coming to a stop two-thirds down.
Ballard’s survey found no underwater penetrations of the ship’s fully armoured citadel. Eight holes were found in the hull, one on the starboard side and seven on the port side, all above the waterline. One of the holes is in the deck, on the bow’s starboard side. The angle and shape indicates the shell that created the hole was fired from Bismarck‘s port side and struck the starboard anchor chain. The anchor chain has disappeared down this hole. Six holes are amidships, three shell fragments pierced the upper splinter belt, and one made a hole in the main armour belt. Further aft a huge hole is visible, parallel to the aircraft catapult, on the deck. The submersibles recorded no sign of a shell penetration through the main or side armour here, and it is likely that the shell penetrated the deck armour only. Huge dents showed that many of the 14 inch shells fired by King George V bounced off the German belt armour.
Ballard noted that he found no evidence of the internal implosions that occur when a hull that is not fully flooded sinks. The surrounding water, which has much greater pressure than the air in the hull, would crush the ship. Instead, Ballard points out that the hull is in relatively good condition; he states simply that “Bismarck did not implode.” This suggests that Bismarck‘s compartments were flooded when the ship sank, supporting the scuttling theory.Ballard added “we found a hull that appears whole and relatively undamaged by the descent and impact”. They concluded that the direct cause of sinking was scuttling: sabotage of engine-room valves by her crew, as claimed by German survivors. Ballard kept the wreck’s exact location a secret to prevent other divers from taking artefacts from the ship, a practice he considered a form of grave robbing.
The whole stern had broken away; as it was not near the main wreckage and has not yet been found, it can be assumed this did not occur on impact with the sea floor. The missing section came away roughly where the torpedo had hit, raising questions of possible structural failure. The stern area had also received several hits, increasing the torpedo damage. This, coupled with the fact the ship sank “stern first” and had no structural support to hold it in place, suggests the stern detached at the surface. In 1942 Prinz Eugen was also torpedoed in the stern, which collapsed. This prompted a strengthening of the stern structures on all German capital ships.
In June 2001, Deep Ocean Expeditions, partnered with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, conducted another investigation of the wreck. The researchers used Russian-built mini-subs. William N. Lange, a Woods Hole expert, stated, “You see a large number of shell holes in the superstructure and deck, but not that many along the side, and none below the waterline.” The expedition found no penetrations in the main armoured belt, above or below the waterline. The examiners noted several long gashes in the hull, but attributed these to impact on the sea floor.
An Anglo-American expedition in July 2001 was funded by a British TV channel. The team used the volcano—the only one in that area—to locate the wreck. Using ROVs to film the hull, the team concluded that the ship had sunk due to combat damage. Expedition leader David Mearns claimed significant gashes had been found in the hull: “My feeling is that those holes were probably lengthened by the slide, but initiated by torpedoes”.
The 2002 documentary Expedition: Bismarck, directed by James Cameron and filmed in May–June 2002 using smaller and more agile Mir submersibles, reconstructed the events leading to the sinking. These provided the first interior shots. His findings were that there was not enough damage below the waterline to confirm that she had been sunk rather than scuttled. Close inspection of the wreckage confirmed that none of the torpedoes or shells had penetrated the second layer of the inner hull. Using small ROVs to examine the interior, Cameron discovered that the torpedo blasts had failed to shatter the torpedo bulkheads.
Despite their sometimes differing viewpoints, these experts generally agree that Bismarck would have eventually foundered if the Germans had not scuttled her first. Ballard estimated that Bismarck could still have floated for at least a day when the British vessels ceased fire and could have been captured by the Royal Navy, a position supported by the historian Ludovic Kennedy (who was serving on the destroyer HMS Tartar at the time). Kennedy stated, “That she would have foundered eventually there can be little doubt; but the scuttling ensured that it was sooner rather than later.” When asked whether Bismarck would have sunk if the Germans had not scuttled the ship, Cameron replied “Sure. But it might have taken half a day.” In Mearns’ subsequent book Hood and Bismarck, he conceded that scuttling “may have hastened the inevitable, but only by a matter of minutes.” Ballard later concluded that “As far as I was concerned, the British had sunk the ship regardless of who delivered the final blow.”
- Unsinkable Sam – cat which is said to have survived the sinking of the Bismarck
Sink the Bismark
|“Sink the Bismark (Sink the Bismarck)”|
The photo on the “45” Columbia record jacket is from the movie, but depicts the model of the HMS Prince Of Wales made for the movie. The models made for this movie are very accurate.
|Single by Johnny Horton|
|B-side||“The Same Old Tale the Crow Told Me”|
|Writer(s)||Johnny Horton and Tilman Franks|
|Johnny Horton singles chronology|
“Sink the Bismark” (later “Sink the Bismarck“) is a march song by country music singer Johnny Horton and songwriter Tillman Franks, based on the pursuit and eventual sinking of the GermanbattleshipBismarck in May 1941, during World War II. Horton released this song in 1960, when it reached #3 on the charts. As originally released, the record label used the common misspelling “Bismark”; this error was corrected for later releases of the song. It was inspired by the 1960 movie Sink the Bismarck! and was in fact (with the English producer John Brabourne’s approval) commissioned from Johnny Horton by 20th Century Fox who were worried about the subject’s relative obscurity. While the song was used in U.S. theater trailers for the film, it was not used in the film itself.
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles||6|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||3|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||1|
- “PT-109” Another song about a World War II ship
- Billboard Magazine, July 11, 1960
- Sudo, Chuck (July 6, 2012). “Friday Morning Diversion: The Blues Brothers Sing “Sink The Bismarck””. IndieWire. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
|This 1960s country song-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|
|This 1960s single-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|
|Birth name||John Gale Horton|
|Also known as||The Singing Fisherman|
|Born||April 30, 1925
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||November 5, 1960 (aged 35)
Milano, Texas, U.S.
|Genres||Country music, folk music,rockabilly|
John Gale “Johnny” Horton (April 30, 1925 – November 5, 1960) was an Americancountry music and rockabillysinger. Rising to fame slowly over the course of the 1950s, Horton earned great fame in 1959 performing historical ballads, beginning with the song “The Battle of New Orleans” (written by Jimmy Driftwood), which was awarded the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording. The song was awarded theGrammy Hall of Fame Award and in 2001 ranked No. 333 of the Recording Industry Association of America‘s “Songs of the Century“. His first hit, a number 1 song in 1959, was “When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below)“.
During 1960, Horton had two other successes with “North to Alaska” for John Wayne‘s movie, North to Alaska and “Sink the Bismarck.” Horton died in November 1960 at the peak of his fame in an automobile accident, less than two years after his breakthrough. Horton is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Horton was born in Los Angeles, to John Loly Horton (1889–1959) and the former Ella Claudia Robinson (1892–1966), the youngest of five siblings, and reared in Rusk in Cherokee County in east Texas. His family often traveled to California to work as migrant fruit pickers. After graduation from high school in Gallatin, Texas, in 1944, Horton attended the Methodist-affiliated Lon Morris Junior College in Jacksonville, Texas, with a basketball scholarship. He later attended Seattle University and briefly Baylor University in Waco, although he did not graduate from any of these institutions.
Horton soon returned to California and found work in the mail room of Hollywood’s Selznick Studio. It was here that he met his future first wife, secretary Donna Cook.
Horton and his older brother, Frank, briefly pursued the study of geology at Seattle, Washington, in 1948 but both ended after a few weeks. He went to Florida, then back to California before leaving for Alaska to look for gold. It was during this period that he began writing songs. He joined Frank in Seattle, went south to Los Angeles, then after Frank married, left for Texas. After much prodding from his sister Marie, he entered a talent contest at the Reo Palm Isle club in Longview, Texas, sponsored by radio station KGRI inHenderson and hosted by station radio announcer and future country music star Jim Reeves. Horton won first prize—an ashtray on a pedestal. Encouraged by the contest, he returned to California, bought some Western-style clothes and entered talent contests.
Horton came to the attention of entrepreneur Fabor Robison, whose first job as manager was to give him a job with Cliffie Stone‘s Hometown Jamboree on KXLA-TV in Pasadena, California. During his early guest performances he worked with musicians such asMerle Travis and Tennessee Ernie Ford. The station then gave him a regular half-hour Saturday night program billed as The Singing Fisherman, during which he sang and displayed his casting skills with a fishing rod. Around this time he also hosted the radio program Hacienda Party Time for KLAC-TV in Los Angeles.
A mixture of Horton’s television performances and Robison’s acquaintances earned him a couple of singles with the minor Cormac recording company. The first single coupled “Plaid And Calico” with “Done Rovin'” and the second “Coal Smoke, Valve Oil and Steam” with “Birds and Butterflies”. After the Cormac label ceased operation, Robinson acquired the masters and started his own company named Abbott Records. By mid-1952, ten Horton singles had been issued but none was successful. They were, for the most part, ordinary western-style songs.
After marriage to Donna and a honeymoon in Palm Springs, he relocated to Shreveport to be near the Louisiana Hayride, on which he appeared on a regular basis. Robison persuaded Mercury Records A&R man Walter Kilpatrick to hire Horton, who began with his songs “First Train Headin’ South” b/w “(I Wished for an Angel) The Devil Sent Me You” (Mercury 6412), with good reviews by the trade newspapers.
Horton was married twice. His first marriage, to Donna Cook, ended with a divorce granted in Rusk, Texas. In September 1953, he married Billie Jean Jones, the widow of country music singer Hank Williams. (She was Williams’ second wife.) With Billie Jean, Horton had two daughters, Yanina (Nina) and Melody. Billie Jean’s daughter, Jeri Lynn, was also legally adopted by Johnny.
In September 1952, Horton acquired a full-time band, the Rowley Trio, from Nederland, Texas. Featuring Jerry Rowley playing fiddle, his wife Evelyn playing piano and sister Vera (Dido) playing bass or guitar, they were working at KFDM in Beaumont following some gigs backing Lefty Frizzell. While playing in Beaumont, Horton and Robison heard the Rowley Trio and were sufficiently impressed to offer them a job touring. They started driving Horton to their engagements, but he kept stopping to fish and hunt, so they soon bought him his own car with which he met them at the various venues. The new foursome recruited Bob Stegall but still termed themselves The Singing Fisherman and the Rowley Trio, before changing the name to Johnny Horton and the Roadrunners.
Louisiana Hayride had been playing for more than four years when Horton joined its cast, and during this time it helped many careers, including those of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Webb Pierce and Bob Luman.
Horton was, by now, a Shreveport resident. His marriage didn’t survive the increasing touring and Donna relocated back to Los Angeles. He was amenable to a reconciliation, but was unwilling to go back to the West Coast. In August, Louisiana Hayride welcomed back Hank Williams, only twenty-eight years old, but banished from Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry for what some considered his drunkenness and unreliability. On October 19, Williams married Billie Jean Jones, the daughter of a local policeman, in front of a paying audience at New Orleans Municipal Auditorium. On one occasion during the time Billie Jean and Hank were married, Horton talked to the couple backstage, and at that meeting, Hank predicted that Billie Jean would one day marry Horton. He remained a Hayridemember until his death.
Hank Williams died on New Year’s Day 1953. He died in the back seat of a Cadillac traveling to a show in Canton, Ohio. Horton and the Rowleys were driving home from an engagement when they heard the news by radio. They were in Milano, Texas and it was there after a show at the Skyline Club in Austin (the same venue as Williams’ last show) that Horton was killed seven years later in a car accident.
Marriage to Billie Jean
Horton and Billie Jean married on September 26, 1953. They lived on Horton’s performance money, his newly established writing contract with American Music of Los Angeles and the settlement that Billie Jean had received from the Williams estate. Horton and Robison had by now parted company, after a disagreement partially about Horton’s frustration at the amount of time Robison was spending with Jim Reeves. Stegall had left, to be replaced by Richard and Betty Lou Spears, but soon the Rowleys left. Horton started using pick-up bands together with Billie Jean’s brothers, Alton and Sonny Jones. His career had stalled and he became so disillusioned that he got a job working in a fishing tackle shop, playing only weekends for Hayride. Even this ceased in November 1954. His last session for Mercury on September 23 did not generate a single album, and the two-year hiatus had been a strange period with songs ranging from answer songs like “Back to My Back Street” and “Train With a Rhumba Beat”. The best seller was “All for the Love of a Girl” (Mercury 70227) which sold about 35,000 to 45,000 copies.
During this time, country music was changing due to the influence of the new rock music. With the example of Elvis Presley, rockabilly was becoming more common both on records and on country music bills, with Louisiana Hayride one of the most progressive in this respect. It was during that program that Horton first saw Presley and apparently he immediately liked the singer and the style.
Horton then asked Hayride stalwart Tillman Franks of Shreveport for some advice. Five years older than Horton, Franks had played bass for Webb Pierce, managed the Carlisles and Jimmy & Johnny, worked as a booking agent, a car salesman in Houston and served on the police force. He, too, was unemployed. “I hadn’t worked in four or five weeks when Johnny Horton come to the door. He was broke too. He and Billie Jean had spent the money they got after Hank died, and she’d told him to get his ass out and make some more. He said, ‘If I can get Tillman Franks to manage me, I’ll get to number one.’ He came to my house on Summer Street and I told him that I just didn’t like the way he sang. He said, ‘No problem. I’ll sing any way you want me to.’ And he was serious!”[this quote needs a citation]
Horton and Tillman Franks had met in Mississippi, when Horton had toured with the Carlisles. By mid-1955, Franks had assumed control of the[clarification needed] management, and after the end of the Mercury contract, his first job was to find a new company. After communicating with Webb Pierce, who in turn talked to Jim Denny at Cedarwood and Troy Martin at Golden West Melodies, a one-year contract with Columbia was forthcoming. Cedarwood and Golden Melodies would both get publishing on two songs per session as part of the deal. With no advance and a session due in Nasvhille, Tennessee, the duo had to borrow the car owned by the father of David Houston for the journey, with the promise that they would try to get Houston a contract while they were in Nashville.
First big hit
On the way to the session, Horton and Franks stopped in Memphis to see Elvis Presley and left with ten dollars (they were too poor to buy gasoline) and the loan of Bill Black on slap bass. Franks had reservations about his own playing and he wanted the sound to be special. On January 11, 1956, Horton entered the Bradley Film and Recording Studios in Nashville, with Bill Black and two of the industry’s major talents, Grady Martin and producer Owen Bradley‘s brother, Harold. The first song played was the mid-tempo rockabilly “I’m a One Woman Man”, composed by Horton and Franks. Howard Crockett (Hausey) had played “Honky Tonk Man” to Horton and Franks and after a quick rewriting of the tune, they split the credits three ways. It was the second song cut that day. By midnight, Don Law and Franks had completed two more songs, “I’m Ready if You’re Willing” and “I Got a Hole in My Pirogue”. Horton and Franks wanted “Honky Tonk Man” as the lead-off single, but Don Law disliked the song. It was only after the intervention of Jim Denny that Law relented and issued “Honky Tonk Man” on the flip side of “I’m Ready if You’re Willing”. Live shows were arranged to advertise the single with the band featuring Tillman Franks on bass and Tommy Tomlinson on guitar. A native of Hampton, Arkansas, Tomlinson had relocated with his family in 1940 to Minden, Louisiana, east of Shreveport.
The single was reviewed by the March 10 issue of Billboard, which said of “Honky Tonk Man”, “The wine women and song attractions exert a powerful hold on the singer, he admits. The funky sound and pounding beat in the backing suggest the kind of atmosphere he describes. A very good jukebox record.” Of the B-side, it read “Horton sings out this cheerful material with amiable personality. This ever more popular stylist ought to expand his circle of fans with this one.” By May the record had scored No. 9 on the C&W Jockey chart, as well as No. 14 on the Best Seller chart.
Franks assumed control of the Hayride bookings, organizing performances in the South. Horton was contracted for his Monday night performances on KLTV-TV in Tyler, Texas, which restricted how far away he could tour. He wanted to end the contract, so on one of the shows, when it was time to read a commercial for Hol-Sum Bread, a product of Cotton Brothers Bakery in Alexandria, Louisiana, he announced “Friends, we are proud to be here, and proud to be sponsored by Hol-Sum Bread. Tillman Franks my manager eats Hol-Sum Bread, and I eat it too. What I like about Hol-Sum Bread is that it’s never touched by hand. That’s right, they mix it with their feet”. After the show, the station owner called him and said she’d be happier if he stopped working for the station. Now he was free to travel, and he started earning as much as $500 a night.
Further recordings and singles
On May 23 they went back to Music City for a second session. Grady Martin again led the proceedings with Ray Edenton replacing Harold Bradley and Floyd “Lightnin'” Chance standing in on double bass. They began at 7 p.m. with “Take Me Like I Am” before doing the Horton-Hausey composition, “Sugar-Coated Baby”. It was one of those mid-tempo tracks at which Horton was to excel, with playful vocals and Martin’s bass string guitaring. Claude King‘s “I Don’t Like I Did” was another such song. The fourth cut was Autry Inman’s ode to women, “Hooray For That Little Difference”.
The next single (Columbia 21538) had “I Don’t Like I Did” on the B-side but the header was “I’m a One Woman Man” from the January session. Billboard enthused that “One Woman” was a “Smart and polished job,” adding that Horton was “singing with a light, airy touch. Guitar work is just as convincing, adding up to listenable, commercial stuff”.
By August, Columbia and Franks ran an advertisement in Billboard claiming their “Sensational New Artist goes on a spree with his newest two-sided hit”. The accompanying photo did nothing for the image of a rocker, showing him looking middle-aged with a cowboy hat to hide his receding hair. The campaign continued with a tour of western Texas starting in El Paso with Johnny Cash, Faron Young and Roy Orbison. Booked by Bob Neal Stars Inc. of Memphis, the group moved to Ontario, Canada for six dates commencing on the 18th, culminating in Detroit.
Billboard‘s first issue in September noted that
Somewhat like his last hit—’Honky Tonk Man’—this release (I’m A One Woman Man) started off rather quietly, but has gradually become a powerful chart contender. This week it made an appearance on the Houston territorial chart and was selling well in Nashville, Dallas, Durham and Birmingham
Within a week or so he was rewarded with a second country hit, this time maximizing at No. 7 on the Jockey chart and No. 9 on both the Best Seller and Jukebox charts.
On October 14, after shows throughout Florida, Horton played in Memphis again for Bob Neal, this time with Johnny Cash, Faron Young, Sonny James, Roy Orbison and the Teen-Kings and Charlene Arthur. They continued around Tennessee until October 23, before continuing to New Mexico and West Texas. It must have been a confident crowd that arrived at Bradley’s Barn on November 12. Only two songs were produced, the unissued “Over Loving You” and the rockabilly “I’m Coming Home”, composed by Horton and Franks.
“I’m Coming Home” was released with “I Got A Hole In My Pirogue” on the flip side (Columbia 40813). Released as the same time as the Johnny Burnette Trio’s “Lonesome Train” (Coral 61758) and Rosco Gordon‘s “Cheese and Crackers” (Sun 257), Billboardpredicted that “the singer, has material in I’m Coming Home that could give him his biggest record to date”. Horton’s vocal against this twangy backing makes a terrific impression. “Pirogue” is a rockabilly type novelty song of great appeal. It’s hard to see how this can miss becoming a gold mine”. On February 9, Billboard noted that “not only Southern markets are doing good business with this, but Northern cities report that both country and pop customers are going for this in a big way”. It was again a success on the country charts (No. 11 Jockey, No. 15 Best Seller) but it failed to score the popular music charts.
Horton, “The Singing Fisherman” had favorite fishing holes in the Piney Woods of East Texas and in northern Louisiana. He and outdoors writer Grits Gresham of Shreveport and later Natchitoches, Louisiana (the “Famous Fisherman” on Miller Lite 1978 commercial, and co host with Curt Gowdy of ABC‘s The American Sportsmantelevision series), enjoyed sharing a bass boat and fishing stories. Horton was also passionate about the writings of the spiritualistEdgar Cayce.[according to whom?]
Tommy Tomlinson (c. 1930–1982), Horton’s guitar player from Minden, Louisiana, flew in from Nashville, where he was producing a duet album with Jerry Kennedy (Tom and Jerry). Horton used the morning to make arrangements to go duck hunting with Claude King of Shreveport once King had returned from Austin and he also telephoned Johnny Cash for a chat. Cash declined to accept the call, an omission he regretted for the rest of his life. Against his wife’s wishes, Franks arose from his sickbed, and they began traveling to Austin.
When they got to the Skyline club, Horton stayed in his dressing room, saying that a drunk would kill him if he went near the bar. After the show, they started the 220-mile journey back to Shreveport. Tomlinson was in the back, observing that Horton was driving too fast—Franks was asleep in the front. About 2 a.m., near Milano, Texas, Horton was crossing a bridge when a truck came at them, hitting both sides of the bridge before plunging into Horton’s Cadillac. Horton had in the past avoided head-on collisions by driving into ditches, but on the narrow bridge he had no such opportunity. He was still breathing when he was pulled from the car but died en route to the hospital. The 19-year-old truck driver, James Davis, a student at Texas A&M University in College Station en route to his family residence in Brady in Central Texas, was intoxicated. Franks suffered head injuries, and young Tomlinson had multiple leg fractures, which nine months later required amputation of his left leg. Davis only suffered a broken ankle with other cuts and bruises.
Tillman Franks’ younger brother, William D. “Billy” Franks, a Church of God minister in Shreveport, preached Horton’s funeral on November 8, 1960, the day John F. Kennedy defeated Richard M. Nixon in the race for U.S. President to succeed Dwight D. Eisenhower. Billie Jean Horton hence became a widow for the second time at the age of twenty-eight. Johnny Cash read Chapter 20 from the Book of John, having flown in on a chartered airplane for Horton’s services. Fifty-three years later in 2013, Billy Franks officiated at the funeral in Shreveport of Horton’s friend, Claude King.
Columbia released various singles and a greatest successes album and on October 5, 1964, Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three overdubbed “Rock Island Line” and “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin'” to Horton’s demos. Other such sessions were held throughout the sixties for album release. “Sleepy-Eyed John” scored the country charts in April 1961, scoring No. 9 and a year later “Honky Tonk Man” was reissued, scoring No. 11. In February 1963 he made his last appearance in the charts (to date) with “All Grown Up”, which reached No. 26.
Horton will be remembered for his major contribution to both country and rockabilly music. When Johnny Cash, a good friend of Horton’s, learned about the accident he said, “[I] locked myself in one of the hotel’s barrooms and cried.” Cash also dedicated his rendition of “When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below)” to Horton on his album Personal File: “Johnny Horton was a good old friend of mine.”
Some racist songs have sometimes been incorrectly associated with Horton. These songs are by a singer calling himself “Johnny Rebel,” who did not begin recording until after Horton’s death. The mistake is apparently because Horton recorded the historical song “Johnny Reb.”
|1959||The Spectacular Johnny Horton||Columbia|
|1960||Johnny Horton Makes History|
|1962||Honky Tonk Man||104|
|1965||I Can’t Forget You|
|1967||Johnny Horton On Stage||37|
|1968||The Unforgettable Johnny Horton|
|1970||On the Road|
|The Legendary Johnny Horton|
|1971||The Battle of New Orleans|
|The World of Johnny Horton|
|1953||“Tennessee Jive”||single only|
|1956||“Honky-Tonk Man“||9||singles only|
|“I’m a One-Woman Man“||7|
|1957||“I’m Coming Home”||11|
|“The Woman I Need”||9|
|1958||“All Grown Up”||8|
|1959||“When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below)“||1||The Spectacular Johnny Horton|
|“The Battle of New Orleans“||1||1|
|“Johnny Reb”||10||54||Johnny Horton Makes History|
|“Sal’s Got a Sugar Lip”||19||81||single only|
|1960||“Sink the Bismarck“||6||3||Johnny Horton Makes History|
|“North to Alaska“||1||4||Greatest Hits|
|1961||“Sleepy-Eyed John”||9||54||Honky-Tonk Man|
|1962||“Honky-Tonk Man” (re-release)||11||96|
|1963||“All Grown Up” (re-release)||26||single only|
As per a box set of his work, here is a complete singles discography.
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 01: “I’m a One Woman Man”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 02: “Honky-Tonk Man”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 03: “I’m Ready If You’re Willing”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 04: “I Got a Hole in My Pirogue”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 05: “Take Me Like I Am”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 06: “Sugar-Coated Baby”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 07: “I Don’t Like I Did”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 08: “Hooray For That Little Difference”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 09: “I’m Coming Home”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 10: “Over-Loving You”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 11: “She Knows Why”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 12: “Honky Tonk Mind (The Woman I Need)”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 13: “Tell My Baby I Love Her”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 14: “Goodbye Lonesome, Hello Baby Doll”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 15: “I’ll Do It Everytime”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 16: “You’re My Baby”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 17: “Let’s Take the Long Way Home”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 18: “Lover’s Rock”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 19: “Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 20: “The Wild One”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 21: “Everytime I’m Kissng You”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 22: “Hot in the Sugarcane Field”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 23: “Lonesome and Heartbroken”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 24: “Seven Come Eleven”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 25: “I Can’t Forget You”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 26: “Wise to the Ways of a Woman”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 27: “Out in New Mexico”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 28: “Tetched in the Head”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 29: “Just Walk a Little Closer”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 30: “Don’t Use My Heart for a Stepping Stone”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 31: “I Love You Baby”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 1 / 32: “Wise to the Ways of a Woman”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 01: “Counterfeit Love”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 02: “Mister Moonlight”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 03: “All Grown Up”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 04: “Got the Bull by the Horns”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 05: “When It’s Springtime in Alaska”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 06: “Whispering Pines”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 07: “The Battle of New Orleans”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 08: “All For the Love of a Girl”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 09: “Lost Highway”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 10: “Sam Magee”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 11: “Cherokee Boogie”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 12: “The Golden Rocket”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 13: “The Battle of New Orleans (British Version)”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 14: “Joe’s Been A-Gittin’ There”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 15: “The First Train Headin’ South”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 16: “Got the Bull by the Horns”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 17: “Sal’s Got a Sugerlip”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 18: “Words”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 19: “Johnny Reb”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 20: “Sal’s Got a Sugarlip”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 21: “Ole Slew Foot”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 22: “I’m Ready If Your Willing”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 23: “Take Me Like I Am”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 24: “They Shined Up Rudolph’s Nose”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 25: “The Electrified Donkey”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 26: “The Same Old Tale the Crow Told Me”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 27: “Sink the Bismarck”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 28: “Sink the Bismarck”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 29: “The Same Old Tale the Crow Told Me”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 30: “All Grown Up”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 2 / 31: “Got the Bull by the Horns”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 01: “Ole Slew Foot”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 02: “Miss Marcy”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 03: “Sleepy Eyed John”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 04: “The Mansion You Stole”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 05: “They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 06: “The Sinking of Reuben James”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 07: “Jim Bridger”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 08: “The Battle of Bull Run”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 09: “Snow-Shoe Thompson”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 10: “John Paul Jones”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 11: “Comanche (The Brave Horse)”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 12: “Young Abe Lincoln”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 13: “O’Leary’s Cow”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 14: “Johnny Freedom”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 15: “Go North!”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 16: “North to Alaska”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 17: “North to Alaska”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 18: “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin'”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 19: “Rock Island Line”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 20: “Hank and Joe and Me”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 21: “The Golden Rocket”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 22: “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 23: “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin'”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 24: “Old Blind Barnabas”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 25: “Evil Hearted Me”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 26: “Hot in the Sugarcane Field”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 27: “You Don’t Move Me Baby Anymore”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 28: “The Gosh-Darn Wheel”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 29: “Broken Hearted Gypsy”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 3 / 30: “The Church by the Side of the Road”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 01: “The Vanishing Race”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 02: “Broken Hearted Gypsy”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 03: “That Boy Got the Habit”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 04: “Hot in the Sugarcane Field”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 05: “You Don’t Move Me Baby Anymore”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 06: “The Church by the Side of the Road”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 07: “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin'”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 08: “Take It Like a Man”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 09: “Hank and Joe and Me”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 10: “The Golden Rocket”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 11: “Old Blind Barnabas”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 12: “Empty Bed Blues”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 13: “Rock Island Line”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 14: “Shake, Rattle and Roll”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 15: “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 16: “Old Dan Tucker”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 17: “The Gosh Darn Wheel”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 18: “From Memphis to Mobile”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 19: “Back Up Train”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 20: “Schottische in Texas”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 21: “Take It LIke a Man”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 22: “That Boy Got the Habit”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 23: “My Heart Stopped, Trembled and Died”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 24: “Alley Girl Ways”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 25: “How You Gonna Make It”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 26: “Witch Walking Baby”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 27: “Down That River Road”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 28: “Big Wheels Rollin'”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 29: “I Got a Slow Leak in My Heart”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 30: “You Don’t Move Me Baby Anymore”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 31: “What Will I Do Without You”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 32: “Janey”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 33: “Streets of Dodge”
- Johnny Horton 1956–1960 Vol. 4 / 34: “Give Me Back My Picture and You Can Keep the Frame”
- “Tommy Tomlinson”. hillbilly-music.com. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- “Tommy Tomlinson”. Minden Press-Herald. April 12, 1982. p. 4.
- “Claude King obituary”. Shreveport Times. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
- Reverend William D. “Billy” Franks (born 1925) is the younger brother of Tillman Franks and the retired founding pastor of the Oakmont Church of God in the Cedar Grove section of Shreveport.
- “Lottie Mae Hood Franks”. Find a Grave. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
- Cash, Johnny (2003). Cash: The Autobiography. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0060727536.
- Adams, Greg (December 6, 2014). “Did Johnny Horton record racist songs? A history of racist country music”. http://musicweird.blogspot.com/. Retrieved August 17, 2015. External link in
- “Is Johnny Horton Racist?”. http://www.spasticmonkeys.com/. February 19, 2004. Retrieved August 17, 2015. External link in
- Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 413. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.